Separate changing room for Irish jockeys to be part of festival Covid measures
Irish participants at the Cheltenham Festival next month will be confined to the controlled racecourse green zone, which will include separate changing rooms for British and Irish-based riders, as part of Covid-19 safety and prevention methods at the meeting.
The number of Irish jockeys, trainers and stable staff set to come over for the festival, which starts on March 16, is predicted to be in the region of 150, and they will be required to remain on site for the duration of their time at the fixture.
Testing of all individuals travelling to the festival from Ireland will take place before they leave, overseen by Dr Jennifer Pugh, the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board's senior medical officer, with an essential list of attendees being issued to the BHA and the Jockey Club, Cheltenham’s owner, each day by Horse Racing Ireland to limit the number of people on site at any one time.
Pugh said: "Over the coming days we will be confirming a PCR testing programme for those with festival runners and this will include testing in Cheltenham ahead of their journey home and quarantine periods and further testing upon return in line with current guidelines."
Health screening, such as temperature checks, which has been in place at British racecourses since racing resumed on June 1 last year, will also apply for the festival.
Dr Jerry Hill, the BHA’s chief medical adviser, said: "We appreciate the hard work Cheltenham is putting in, along with our counterparts in Ireland, to ensure all of those involved in competing at this year’s festival can do so in an environment that is as safe as possible."
Irish riders, who had shared changing facilities with British jockeys since racing returned, will be kept separate. It was confirmed on Wednesday that no amateur jockeys from Britain or Ireland would be allowed to participate at the festival this year.
Simon Claisse, Jockey Club regional head of racing and clerk of the course at Cheltenham, said: "The Cheltenham team has worked tirelessly with the IHRB, HRI and BHA and we’re pleased to confirm numerous safety protocols to ensure Irish participation at this year’s festival.
"These comprehensive protocols include a strict code of conduct and an enhanced control area at the racecourse to avoid mixing with UK participants and the local community."
Join Members' Club Ultimate and read tipping from the likes of Pricewise and Paul Kealy, all the big interviews and features, daily comment and news analysis – plus our Ultimate Daily newsletter. Click here to sign up.